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Articles tagged with: Growing Up

We Didn't Get The School We Wanted.

on Thursday, 16 April 2015.

Until you become a parent you don't know the true emotion that comes with truly knowing you would do absolutely anything for another person.  That overwhelming feeling of raw love that meant quite simply life wouldn't ever feel the same again.  Of course, it doesn't come instantly.  When my eldest daugther was born and was placed into my arms on that cold Christmas Eve morning in 2010, yes, I had never felt anything like it.  But that true love, that fierce, protective motherhood instinct- that develops over time.  It happens quickly and you only really notice it unless it has reason to show itself.  It may not even be over anything particularly worth being concerned over, perhaps your only just toddling little girl may get pushed over in soft play, but even that stirs a tiny feeling deep down inside.  Those butterflies, that raw emotion, that protectiveness that comes wtih being a parent.  The one that you can't quite put into words, even if you tried.

As parents we just want the best for our children.  The very best.  We want them to be happy.  We want them to have the best start in life.  Ultimately it's about choices.  Do we breastfeed or bottle feed?  Do we sleep them on their backs because that's what they tell us to, even though they go down happiest on their tummy?  Do we give them 'food from a jar' when all their friends are being baby led weaned organic vegetables?  More often than not it's about guilt.  The guilt is a constant part of being a parent.  Are we doing it right?  Are we being the best we can be?

We all have that dream for our children.  That dream of them doing the things we didn't quite manage to do.  The things that may have made us sad in the past, we don't want them to have that.  Name calling, teasing in the play ground, the bullies at school- we pray that they don't go through a similar fate.  We want them to fly.  To soar.  To be the very best they can be.  We want them to have the opportunities that we didn't, whatever those opportunties may be.  Way in the future, I have a funny vision of sitting round a table somewhere with my girl's, just as I myself do with my own Mum today.  We are chatting over a glass of wine, and there are little grandchildren running around our feet.   Of course, that might not be what they want.  Their dreams may be different, they may pursue a completely different path.  But whatever happens, whatever they want to do, as a parent ALL we want is for them to be happy.

As I write this post it's 1.10am.  A few minutes ago I tiptoed into my girl's bedroom, as I have done almost every evening for four years.  Nothing out of the ordinary, except this time I pause a little bit longer when I kiss my biggest daughter.  She has kicked off her covers and her legs are contorted into a funny shape.  Her arms are thrown over her head and her wild, unruly curls are splayed out across her pillow.  I place my hand on her chest and feel it rise and fall slowly.  As I often do, I marvel about just how much she has grown up, it's hard to fathom her as that tiny baby we bought home from the hospital that day.  I remember being absolutely terrified of putting her in the car, even though we live about five minutes drive from the hospital.  We must have checked the car seat about ten times, and I hobbled my post c-section body into the back of the car, just 'in case'.  I didn't even want to let her out of my sight for that five minute journey and sit in the front.  It felt a strange mixture of emotions- utter joy and sheer fear, taking this little being home to start our lives together.  

That strange mixture of emotions is back again.

Like countless parents up and down the country, I have waited up to check on our primary school application.  Refreshing the screen about a hundred times even though it wasn't yet midnight, that strange feeling of emotions that so often comes on my motherhood journey is there again.  And after one more refresh, at 11.57pm we were told the news.  We didn't get her into our first choice school.  Nor our second.  We got into our third and final school, our catchment school, one that we really only put down because we were told not to waste a choice.   My intial reaction was disappointment, real disappointment.  So I cried.  That feeling in the pit of my stomach knawed away at me, making me feel truly upset.  Because yet again, it comes down to that same old thing- we would do anything for our children.

It was inevitable we we were going to get that school.  Deep down I knew we would, but I was still hoping and crossing my fingers that we would at least get our second.  We are lucky to have an education system in place for our children, I know that.  We are lucky for a lot of things.  This isn't about that.  But walking through that school a few months ago, both myself and my husband didn't think much to it at all.  It's under achieving in all areas according to it's reports, but again I don't know enough about the education system to know what this means.  All I know is walking around there, we just didn't get a 'feel' for it like we did with the others.  There were parts we just weren't keen on at all.  It just didn't feel like the vision I had of my little girl going to school, I couldn't imagine waiting at those school gates for her to come out, in her little school uniform, her hair blowing behind her, and her face all flushed red with excitement as she ran to me at the end of the school day.

But fate has done it's thing and Mads will be going there in September.  It's the next morning now and I am a little embarrased to admit that I have shed a fair few tears.  I know deep down how lucky we are that she even has the opportunity to go to school in the first place, but I can't help but feel a huge amount of disappointment.  I have spent the night tossing and turning, discussing possible solutions with my husband- but deep down realistically I know that I need to resign myself to it now and accept the fact.  I need to start seeing the positives.  

Because that's the thing.  That little girl asleep in the room next to me- she doesn't know all of this.  She doesn't know that her Mummy spent half the night crying.  She just knows that come September she is going to 'big school'.  We drive past the school that she got into every morning and she always points out 'the big boys and girls'.  She doesn't know what the future holds for her, what school entails, what she will do all day.  She just is excited and happy about the possiblity of going.  She's completely innocent, unaware of the bad in the world, and just perfectly happy to give anything a go.  She sees the joy and positives in everything.  

So that's what I need to do.  I need to suck it up and see the world through my little girl's eyes for a change.  To be excited about the next chapter of her journey.  Yes it's not quite the journey we had planned for her, but she will continue to make us proud as she does every single day.  I will stand there with all the other mums, waiting for her to excitedly to run out the doors and tell us what friends she has made.  She will pull artwork from her bag that she has done that day and we will display them on our kitchen wall like they are masterpieces and works of modern art.  We will help her with her writing, her reading and her maths, and do the best we can by her, just as we have done every day since she was born.  We will have life experiences, make memories and raise her the way we are already doing so, outside of those classroom walls.  

We will continue to be the proudest parents alive.

Really, I think I am just feeling a little nostalgic and sentimental right now.  These milestones are passing us by at a rapid rate and it's hard to fathom that it wasn't yesterday that we took her out of that car seat on that first trip back from the hospital.  When school seemed like an eternity away.  I'm not entirely ready for this stage of our lives to be over, and I am not sure I ever will be.  But that's life and we will enjoy this Summer and make it a happy few months of memories.  Although I am a little sad about it all, I'm also incredibly excited too.

And come September we will start this new chapter in our lives.  And I know my little girl will soar and grow in whatever environment she is placed in, of that I am confident.  

Because we will continue to support her always.

 

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M is for Mads... (And Mango!)

on Monday, 08 September 2014.

One of my favourite brands is Innocent- not firstly for the fact that I am a little bit obsessed with their Innocent Veg Pots (Yum!) but also because I have always had a secret yearning to work at Fruit Towers- it looks like the best place to work ever.  When Innocent got in touch to see if we wanted to be one of twenty six bloggers spelling out the alphabet for their Alphabet Challenge, we said yes of course.  We would happily sell our souls in exchange for some free vouchers.  (That bit might not be entirely true)  

We got given the letter M so of course M is for my Mads.  And Mango.

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Little over a year ago I wrote this post.  In it I wrote down all my feelings about Mads potentially starting preschool, about how it was the end of an era and how about we should treasure all these precious moments together.  I read it back today and almost cried, I look at those photos of her running around in her little pink tutu clutching some balloons and she just looks so young.  I remember that day like it was yesterday, yet so much has changed.  She has grown at least a foot taller, those little ringlet curls have got looser and are now almost down to her bottom, and she has changed so much in the face.  Gone are the not quite a baby/not yet a girl features, instead now she is a little girl through and through.  This Summer has seen the arrival of a splattering of freckles, sun kisses as we call them, over her little button nose.  

I'm feeling very nostalgic at the moment, and a little sentimental too.  Seeing proud parents post photos of their children all over social media, smiling in their slightly too big, ironed and crisp new school uniform, I am well aware that next year that will be us.  It's something that every parent goes through, we have known it was coming even from when she was tiny, when the very idea of school seemed like a far off dream.  But slowly we are ticking those milestones of the list- she's been at nursery/preschool almost a year now, she can write her name, she no longer needs her little musical doggy to send her off to sleep at night.  Tick, Tick, Tick, another day passing, another milestone achieved.  

She drives me mad on a daily basis, she takes about fifteen minutes to get into her car seat especially when I am in a rush, and she can throw one hell of a wobbler if she doesn't get her own way on occasions.  But for the most part, we are best friends.  She is completely innocent, still sucks her fingers and plays with ears when she is tired and still believes we are the centre of the world.  While she realises there are bad people in the world, or that bad things can happen, she doesn't truly grasp that concept quite yet.  She lives in a world of rainbows, fairies and Toy Story characters that come to life.  And I am not ready to leave that world behind.

Growing up hurts sometimes, it hurts us parents who watch them leaving those precious days behind- those tiny, wailing newborn days, those days where you feel like you will never get off the sofa without a child attached to your breast, those terrible twos where they won't eat anything but fromage frais, and those funny days where they learn word after word and pronounce them wrong.  But that's life.  We change.  We grow.  We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, let alone a year from now.

So I had to dedicate my letter in the Innocent Alphabet to Mads.  My precious little girl, who over the next year is going to change and grow more than ever.  Who one day won't think her Mummy is the centre of her universe.  Who a year from now I will have to let go of just a tiny little bit, as she learns to become the person she is meant to be through the help of her hopefully special and memorable school days.   We will enjoy the next year together, the lazy days, the days where we don't have to rush around for the school run, and the days where it's just the three of us.  We will bake cakes, see friends, go to the playground and make smoothies.

M is for Mads.  And Mango.

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{The Ordinary Moments} #17 - A Milestone Day.

on Sunday, 08 December 2013.

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This past week we have had a very big thing happen in a little lady's world- she had her first settling in session at nursery.  

When I went back to work when Mads was eleven months old, we were in the fortunate position that two dear family friends and my Mum looked after her for the three days I was away.  This continued for the next fourteen months until I went on maternity leave with LL, and I can't thank them enough for having my big girl for me.

This time around our situation has changed, in all aspects.  In regards to work, that's a story for another time, but in terms of childcare we have had to decide on what to do with Mads and LL.  We looked at a couple of pre-schools but due to a number of different reasons we have enrolled both Mads and LL in nursery two short days a week from 9.00am - 2.30pm.  LL will start settling in sessions in January ready to start properly in February, but Mads had her first one last Thursday.

I was so nervous about taking her.  She has always been quite independent but recently she has developed a sense of fear about certain things. We chatted about it in the car, and she insisted on wearing her sunglasses which I thought was funny.  We walked in and straight away she was fine.  I thought I would have to stay a while the first time round, but within five minutes I was out the door.  

I walked outside to my car, and had to hold back the tears.  I put my hands on the wheels and realised they were shaking.  I know that babies go to nursery a lot earlier than she has, but it's a big step for me to leave her with someone other than family and friends who love her as much as I do.  

She is only there two hours at a time until the end of December, but when I went to pick her up, she was sat at a little table doing some painting without a care in the world.  I walked in and she looked a mixture of embarrassed and happy to see me, and I had to drag her home because she didn't want to leave.  I got the most gorgeous reindeer painting, which she was so incredibly proud to tell me about as soon as I walked in the door.  I honestly will treasure it forever and it's happily got prime position on our kitchen cabinet.

I am so proud of my big girl, and although we may have a few wobbles along the way, I can tell that she will be very happy there, and will thrive.  She is growing up so fast, and although it is just nursery, it feels like I am letting her go just a little bit.  It sounds silly but it is a big step for me.  I don't know what on earth I am going to do when LL goes in January!  

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The Application.

on Monday, 10 June 2013.

Last week I picked up a thin green folder with 4 sheets of A4 paper in it.  

Mads pre school application.

At 2 and a half, she can't actually go to our local pre school until 2 years nine months, but due to limited spaces it is best to get the application form in as soon as you can.  

I wasn't aware just quite how much this green folder would stir up strange emotions in me.

I want Mads to go to pre school, I really do.  I have been without her occasionally since she was 11 months old when I returned to work.  I worked three days a week and Mads went to my mum and two incredibly wonderful family friends.  She still does a day and a half a week.

I am used to being without her, I am happy to go on the occasional night away from her (4 times in her little life so far) but pre-school?  

Well that's something else.

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Time is going so fast.  Having our lovely LL seems to have reinforced this even more.  It's almost as if LL's arrival has made Mads appear even more grown up overnight.  She is growing that little bit taller, speaking that little bit more, and learning to do new things every day.  

Compared to her little sister, she seems so big.

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At 2 and a half, her baby days are well and truly behind us.  I don't see a baby when I look at her anymore. I don't even see a toddler.

I see a little girl.  

And with that little girl I see a glimpse of the future.  Of learning to let her go, just a little at a time.

There will be pre-school.  Then there will be school.  She will lose some of her innocence that makes her who she is.  My little girl who has never ever so much as lashed out at another child.  My little girl who believes in the Easter Bunny, in Father Christmas and who dances around the room to the Bubble Guppies theme tune.

My little girl who sucks her fingers and plays with the ears of whoever will let her when she is tired and needing a comfort.

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My little girl who truly believes her Mummy and Daddy are superheros who can do anything.

My little girl who needs her Mummy when she is sad.

My kind hearted, innocent, brave little person who knows nothing of the bad things that can happen in the world.  Who dances naked and shakes her 'bum bum' and who has no issues with body image or confidence.  Who hasn't got a bad bone in her little body.

I have a huge desire to wrap her up in cotton wool and never let her go.  At times I wish I had a large stopwatch that was capable of slowing down time, or even stop it.  To keep my babies the age they are now.  To stop them growing so quickly.

But I can't do that.  

I have to let my big girl take her first steps into the world.  I have to let her go, even slightly, and let her be Mad's.  To find out who she is.  To grow, to learn and to develop into the person she is going to be.

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When I hand that small green folder back into our local preschool next week, I need to remember how I am feeling at this moment.  

I need to remember to treasure every single moment with my girls.  Even the everyday moments- the naked dancing, the silly giggles and the tired cuddles.  The little bruised legs poking out underneath her pink tutu and the way her curls bounce when she runs.

I need to fill our days with fun, love and happiness.  So that when she is grown up she can remember these days we spent together, however distant and long ago they may seem.

I need to learn to let her go, let go of her hand and let her take her first steps into the world.  Yes it's only pre school, but it's the start of a long line of things to come.  It may only be an application form, but it's almost like signing a form saying that this first part of our lives and journey together are over.  Starting pre school is like starting another chapter- the chapter where she grows up that little bit more.

The days that we are each other's everything.  That I have to accept her growing up.

She may not look so little anymore.  

But she will always be my baby.

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